Rant 4: Senior Citizen Skiers

by Brian Wilson, 5/16/99

(Read a personal description of Backblaze here.)

In the last couple of years, I've noticed a group of skiers on the hill I had been oblivious to before: older skiers, some that are 65 or even 70 years old. They must have been there all along, but somehow I just started noticing them recently. Last year, while on a ski trip with my buddies Garth, Brady, and Mike, we gave a 70 year old man a ride from Telluride to the bus station in Montrose. Along the way he told us how he travels about the world skiing... he wins the award for the oldest ski bum I've ever met.

A few people noticed the title of this rant when it was under the "Coming Soon" category, and they emailed me hinting they believed this rant would cast a negative light towards older skiers. Not so! That old guy gives me hope. Hope that when I'm 70 years old, I will still enjoy a good day on the slopes. Up until I met him, I had expected to give up skiing by the time I was 45 or 50 years old.

In Sun Valley, Idaho this year, I skied in some wicked weather for 4 days straight. Icy, hard blowing snow, low visibility. The last day I was there, the sun came out, the wind died down, and it was a beautiful day. All over the mountain that day, I met senior skiers that seemed to know each other. I started asking them about it, and it seems that Sun Valley (and the town of Ketchum) is quite the retirement area. It turns out that a lot of seniors were skiing that day because they couldn't get out to the slopes during the storm and now were taking advantage of the good turn in the weather. Some of these senior skiers were in better physical condition than others, and they would ski in various groups sorted by ability. There were a couple old women out there that looked pretty feeble, but they snowplowed their way down the bunny hills without falling.

When I was at Winter Park this year, I followed these two old guys through one of Winter Park's famous mogul fields. These are big, LONG stretches of bumps, and it was wearing me out to keep up with these two old geezers. Finally, one of them took a fall and I was SURE he was going to be hurt badly. I skied up to check on him, and he was just fine, and laughing about the fall! He was 65, and his friend was 68.

My buddy Garth tells me there was a revival in skiing about 15 - 20 years ago. A lot of former skiers that were about 40 years old got back on the snow. And those skiers are about 60 now, and some of them are still going strong.

I don't know why I hadn't noticed the senior skiers before now. But I'm glad they are out there because of what it means for me. Nothing would make me happier than to take a few good turns on my 70th birthday.

Return to Ski-Epic home page.